The best picture.
I really, really like movies. Great movies, the ones you find yourself thinking about for days after you leave the theater, the ones that get under your skin and change you a little bit. It's essentially the same criteria I have for books, and music, and tv shows. I'm picky. I want to spend my free time immersed in the very best stories and narratives I can find, and bonus points if there's a lesson or a catchy song involved. This year's two most lauded films, Moonlight and La La Land, offered exactly those things, respectively. I didn't do a good job of seeing most of the Oscar-nominated films this year, which is weird for me, but I did see both of those - Moonlight I watched on a treadmill at the gym just a few hours before the awards began, but I made it!
I've been known to take my opinions and passions about the arts a little too seriously. At home, I still get teased about 2005, the night of the 78th Academy Awards, when Crash, one of the WORST MOVIES TO EVER WIN BEST PICTURE, took home the big prize WHEN IT ABSOLUTELY SHOULD HAVE BEEN BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN AND NO, I'M STILL NOT OVER IT.
I liked La La Land a lot. I love Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone and have seen most of their movies. I have listened to the soundtrack several times and find myself humming "City of Stars" all the time. It reinvented the movie musical and took our minds off the bullshit going on in the world - which is about all you can really ask for at the end of the day.
But Moonlight was special, really special. The first LGBTQ film to win Best Picture. The first Muslim actor to win an Oscar. Best Adapted Screenplay for the talented writers, who based Moonlight off of their own experiences. Most importantly, it puts us all directly, awkwardly, painfully and beautifully in the shoes of Chiron, a black boy growing up in the projects of Miami and trying to come to terms with his sexuality while being bullied at school and neglected by his crack-addicted mother. This movie makes a massive, lasting impression on a tiny budget, using mostly unknown actors, with a non-traditional format. It's told in three chapters, each introducing us to a new actor playing Chiron at various ages.
I can't overstate how big a deal it is that this film, this quiet, artsy indie film that only made $22 million won the Academy Award. This gives me hope as a movie (and art) lover that we haven't totally gone commercial and given up on creativity and soul in our entertainment - because it sure feels that way sometimes when you flip through a television guide, doesn't it? But even more importantly, it gives me hope that young people of color across this country will see themselves elevated to the big screen in a different light than they've been portrayed before, that alternate versions of blackness will become normalized, that we can still learn about the people around us and accept and love each other for our beautiful variety.
I know I haven't seen all the movies yet, but they really got it right. This is the best. Go watch teh movie!